Orange Is the New Orange. Nutritionally, That Is.

Related To:
460325163

460325163

Sliced carrots in a bowl

With the new season of the prison drama Orange Is the New Black set to debut this week, it seems like a good time to celebrate all things orange. But that's not necessarily a nod to neon-orange processed food -- like crunchy cheese curls -- or even prison garb, for that matter. This is about the tasty orange stuff that grows on trees and plants, all of which is uniquely good for us.

"The reality is various types of orange produce are all very similar nutritionally," says Mary Howley Ryan, MS, RDN, owner of Beyond Broccoli Nutritional Counseling, in Jackson, Wyo. "The carotenoids -- especially beta-carotene that turns into vitamin A -- not only give them their beautiful color but also provide big health benefits." That said, there are literally hundreds of different carotenoid compounds to be found in orange fruits and vegetables, so it pays to try them all.

Carrot

The antioxidant beta-carotene is found in such plentiful quantities in carrots that it was actually named after the vegetable. This nutrient is also widely studied -- research in the Netherlands found that those who had higher levels of carrot intake had significantly lower risk of cardiovascular disease. And other compounds called polyacetylenes found in carrots have more recently been shown to inhibit growth of colon cancer cells in mice.

Mango

This tropical fruit is an excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A and C as well as potassium and vitamin K. "It also packs three grams of fiber in a one-cup serving and contains more cancer-protective polyphenols than most other tropical fruits," Ryan says.

179301865

179301865

Fruit - mango.

Sweet Potato

Unlike its white cousin, the orange-fleshed sweet potato is one of the best sources of vitamin A, and it also provides a good dose of vitamins E, C, B6, manganese, potassium and fiber.

187904105

187904105

Batata (Ipomoea batatas)

Pumpkin

While you may have to wait for fall to enjoy fresh pumpkins, canned varieties (as well as pumpkin seeds) are nutritious options all year round. The flesh is high in fiber and a rich source of vitamin A as well as the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin -- which are particularly important for eye health because they may protect against macular degeneration. The seeds contain phytosterols that may help lower cholesterol.

490613999

490613999

Single fresh pumpkin isolated on white background

Peach

In addition to the usual orange benefits (like vitamins A and C and a variety of carotenoids), peaches also contain beneficial phenolic compounds similar to those found in grapes and red wine. But don't peel those peaches: "Most of the vitamin C, beta-carotene and phenol are in the skin," Ryan says.

483171467

483171467

One peach

Sally Wadyka is a Boulder, Colorado-based journalist who writes about nutrition, health and wellness.

Keep Reading

Next Up

5 Ingredients: The Easiest Veggie Sandwich

A pound of meat piled high on two slices of bread can be a bit much on a hot summer day (or any day really). Go light and cook less by prepping my veggie sandwich, which is filled with healthy nutrients and comes together in minutes.

A New Ingredient in Pumpkin Spice Lattes: Pumpkin

Starbucks has announced that its Pumpkin Spice Lattes will now actually contain pumpkin (and not caramel coloring).

The Veggie Table: Vegan Pumpkin-Banana Bread Pudding

This Valentine’s Day, I want to strike a balance between sweets and heart-healthy foods, so I’ll be making loved ones my Pumpkin Banana Bread Pudding. It’s made with fiber-filled whole-wheat bread, pumpkin and bananas, which are all heart healthy. Better still, this vegan recipe is free of saturated fat and cholesterol, which means it’s a treat for your ticker, too!

On TV

The Pioneer Woman

9:30am | 8:30c

Cupcake Wars

10am | 9c

Cupcake Wars

11am | 10c

Cake Wars

12pm | 11c

The Pioneer Woman

1:30pm | 12:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

2:30pm | 1:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

3:30pm | 2:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

4:30pm | 3:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

5:30pm | 4:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

6:30pm | 5:30c

Chopped

7pm | 6c

Chopped

8pm | 7c

Chopped

9pm | 8c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Beat Bobby Flay

10pm | 9c

Beat Bobby Flay

10:30pm | 9:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

11:30pm | 10:30c

Chopped

12am | 11c

Beat Bobby Flay

1:30am | 12:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

2:30am | 1:30c

Chopped

3am | 2c

Mystery Diners

4:30am | 3:30c

Food Network Apps

In the Kitchen

Get over 70,000 FN recipes on all your mobile devices.

Facebook Messenger

Ask our bot for recipes, meal ideas and daily food trivia.

Amazon Echo

Just say "Alexa, enable Food Network skill" to get started.